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Winter Winners with Big Data

The Computer Applications Olympiad tests technical ability with documents, spreadsheets and databases, as taught in the school subject CAT (Computer Applications Technology). The final four-hour round of the Olympiad required finalists to be creative with data by anticipating problems, spotting trends and imagining possible solutions. A massive data set was used – hundreds of thousands of anonymised records from a decade of the Cape Town Cycle Tour. The high school finalists not only analysed the data, they also responded to a trend it revealed about youth entries. They had to illustrate the trend in an informative graphic that would visually promote the benefits of participation in this cycling event to teenagers. The problems were set to show that managing Big Data is a key skill that will offer employment opportunities. The national finals were held at Bergvliet High in Cape Town during the winter school holidays. Twelve learners out of 5 226 participants from the qualifying rounds took part. Medals were awarded to the top six.

Medals for three provinces
Sean Groenewald of Hoërskool Randburg claimed gold in the 2018 Computer Applications Olympiad. He is in grade 12 and loves computer challenges – he was also a finalist in the Programming Olympiad in 2017. He plans to study Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Cape Town and says he wants to work for Google. As the gold medalist he is eligible for a first year scholarship to study at the University of Cape Town in 2019.
Two silver medals were awarded. One to Shan O’Neil, also of Hoërskool Randburg. He plans to study Computer Science at UNSW in Sydney. The other silver medal went to Daniel Olivier from Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch who plans to study Computer Science at the University of Stellenbosch.
Both of Gauteng’s two bronze medal winners, Christopher Dovale, headboy at Boksburg High, and Heather Wimberley of Brescia House (Bryanston), are interested to study mechanical engineering and robotics. Heather, presently in grade 11, has her sights set on studying at MIT. The third bronze medal winner, Dylan Nel of The Hill College in Mill Park, Port Elizabeth, plans to study digital arts, programming and game design.

Will AI cost teaching jobs?
The main speakers at the Awards Dinner in Cape Town were the Western Cape MEC for Education, Debbie Schäfer, and entrepreneur Bryan Banfield, founder and CEO of Artibeus IT. Banfield said that the skills that had brought learners to the national finals would give them wide choices in a rapidly developing digital economy. He challenged them to look at opportunities in the world around them ‘with fresh eyes’ and to bring their own solutions to industry. He asserted that some jobs would be lost through the impact of technology. He suggested that when Artificial Intelligence (AI) is applied in classrooms, teaching jobs could be affected. Minister Schäfer vigorously countered Banfield’s assertion that teachers would be made redundant by technology. Teaching roles would change with technology, she said, and training would be given, but the teachers’ duty of care and role in guiding learning would always remain.

CAT for Further Study
Minister Schäfer congratulated the 12 finalists on their exceptional performance as the top participants from over 5 000 nationally. In relation to the subject CAT, she was “pleased to see that in March this year, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) issued a notice in the Government Gazette revoking the designated subjects list for the Senior Certificate and National Senior Certificate which will open the way for many more learners to develop literacies such as programming and coding for future study and work”. She added that “Computer Applications Technology (CAT) plays an important role in providing a foundation for further study in critical subjects such as programming and coding”.

Winners of the 2018 Computer Applications Olympiad
Alphabetical according to surname in category
Result Last name First name School Area

Gold Groenewald Sean Hoërskool Randburg Randburg
Silver Olivier Daniel Paul Roos Gymnasium Stellenbosch
Silver O’Neil Shan Hoërskool Randburg Randburg
Bronze Dovale Christopher Boksburg High Boksburg
Bronze Nel Dylan Hill College Port Elizabeth
Bronze Wimberley Heather Brescia House Bryanston
Runner-up De Bruin Starling Sutherland High Centurion
Runner-up Irlam Huw Pinelands High Cape Town
Runner-up Makaepea Andy St Enda’s Secondary Joubert Park
Runner-up Nel Theunis Vredendal High Vredendal
Runner-up Pillay Liam York High George
Runner-up Spolander Caitlin Rhenish Girls’ High Stellenbosch

Solutions guides for CAT teachers
In conclusion Minister Schäfer thanked the members of the Scientific Committee, all of them former teachers, “not only did you volunteer your time to procure the data, for setting the questions and developing the solutions for the tests, but… you also published the Solutions Guides for all participating schools. These guides are valuable for teachers who use them to show their learners a variety of ways to answer challenging problems”.

Quality Competition
The encouragement to enter the Olympiad came from teachers. Finalist Andy Makaepea of St Enda’s Secondary in central Johannesburg said he entered ‘to test my skills against some quality competition’. Jenny Cole, a professional trainer from Durban who attended the awards dinner, remarked ‘The main theme of the evening was …my teacher said I should’.

Young IT professionals for life
The Computer Applications Olympiad is a project of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals of South Africa (IITPSA). Ulandi Exner, national President of the IITPSA handed over student membership certificates to the finalists. She said that as the anchor sponsor of the Olympiad, the Institute aims to increase the number of young people entering IT professions in the country and to support them to grow throughout their careers.

Further details for the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and George

Eastern Cape
Dylan Nel of The Hill College in Mill Park, Port Elizabeth, earned a first place provincial certificate for the Eastern Cape in the second round of the Applications Olympiad, and at the final he earned a bronze medal. Dylan is a veteran of mathematics and programming Olympiads. He said he found the Applications Olympiad ‘well-structured, thought-provoking and a lot of fun, an all-round good experience’. He plans to study digital arts, programming and game design, and follow his interest in motorbike mechanics.

Western Cape
Silver medal winner, Daniel Olivier is in grade 12 at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch where he is on the debating committee, runs an e-sports gaming club and is part of the school newspaper technical team. Daniel plans to study Computer Science at the University of Stellenbosch.
Two other finalists were also from Cape Town, Huw Irlam of Pinelands High (3rd in the Western Cape) and Caitlin Spolander of Rhenish Girls’ High. The gold medal winner of 2017, Mia de Villiers of Paarl Girls’ High also qualified for the finals but was in London at the time of the contest.

George
Finalist Liam Pillay is a grade 12 achiever from York High were he has full colours for academics and service. He intends to study to become a 3-D Animator to make movies or games.

Report by Michael Cameron, manager of the South African Computer Olympiad
High resolution photographs of the awards function, guests and finalists are available on request from info@olympiad.org.za or by calling landline 021 448 7864.